A former Maine prosecutor is appealing a lower federal court ruling in a civil lawsuit filed against her to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
Mary Kellett, a former Hancock County assistant district attorney, is being sued in federal court by former Gouldsboro resident Vladek Filler over how she handled his now-discredited sexual assault case when she prosecuted him the late 2000s.
Filler, who now lives in suburban Atlanta, was tried twice on charges that he raped his wife but, after eventually being convicted of only a misdemeanor assault charge, later had that conviction vacated, wiping his record clean.
In his lawsuit, which includes as defendants 17 other people or entities involved in the investigation and prosecution of his case, Filler claims that Kellett, with the cooperation of police, denied him due process and a fair trial by suppressing potentially exculpatory evidence.
Federal Judge John Woodcock ruled earlier this year in U.S. District Court in Bangor that there is merit to some of Filler’s arguments about his rights being violated. Woodcock denied a motion by Kellett and her co-defendants to dismiss Filler’s lawsuit, allowing some of Filler’s claims to move forward.
In her appeal, Kellett argues that her role as a prosecutor gave her “absolute immunity” from allegations that she acted improperly in how she managed the collection of evidence and advised police officers on whether to provide requested evidence to Filler’s defense attorney.
Kellett already has been sanctioned professionally over her handling of the case. In 2013, she was ordered by a state supreme court justice to undergo remediation training after the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar determined that Kellett had violated several rules of the bar in prosecuting Filler.
Kellett is the only prosecutor in Maine ever to be sanctioned by the board for prosecutorial misconduct.
In a “friend of the court” brief filed in Filler’s lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union accuses Kellett of breaking the law by editing exculpatory evidence out of a video recording of a police interview with Filler’s now ex-wife. Kellett, who now works in private practice, has not been charged with any crime in connection with her prosecution of Filler.
In the video, while a police officer is out of the room, Filler’s wife told a friend who was observing the interview that accusing Filler of sexual abuse was her way of “fighting for the children” in the couple’s looming divorce and custody battle. The friend, in response, urged her to cry when the officer returns, which she did, court documents indicate.
Kellett never turned this portion of the interview video over to Filler’s defense attorney despite his request for the entire recording.
“Kellett’s act of splicing an interrogation video in order to alter its meaning and impair its veracity constitutes a crime in Maine,” said the ACLU brief filed with the federal appeals court on Oct. 5.
In his subsequent divorce from his wife, Filler was granted full custody of their two sons.
Recent attempts to contact Kellett’s Portland-based attorneys, Heidi Hart and John Whitman, about her appeal were unsuccessful. Filler’s attorney, Thomas Hallett of Portland, did not return a message left at his office.
Oral arguments are scheduled to be held at the federal appeals court in Boston on Nov. 7.